Sensitivity warning: Today's post discusses some rather delicate matters.
I think I'll take a little time out from my busy schedule of scooping the New York Times, reporting on the Blunder From Down Under, exploring the wonders of nature here on The Ranch, and, oh, yeah, that thing called work. I think we're long overdue for another "snippets" post here.
SHAMblog's Steve Salerno facetiously named his post of today, "Just another misogynistic Monday." Actually he's not being misogynistic, just making some well-considered points about the double standards that are working in women's favor in our society these days.
If you want to see some real misogyny – or at least what has been interpreted by some feminists as a sort of veiled misogyny – take a look at a couple of ads that were in some old magazines I just happened to have lying around the house (click on the images for enlargement). Something about living in this retro ranch house has inspired me to unpack and rediscover the delights and insights hidden within the yellowing pages of these old periodicals (so to speak).
You may have previously seen a version of this first ad in an email that was going around the Net some time last year. Well, I have in my possession a copy of a magazine that actually contains one of these ads: the March 1956 issue of Successful Farming, to be exact. This is one of the gems I retrieved from the home of my late paternal grandmother. (As it happens, my grandparents on both sides were farmers, and both of my parents grew up on a farm, so I guess I'm just carrying on the family tradition...sort of, anyway...by residing on The Ranch.)
Flipping through the pages of this issue of Successful Farming is a not entirely pleasant trip back in time. Nestled among the tractor and fertilizer ads and the articles about the latest breakthroughs in adding stilbestrol (estrogen) and antibiotics to cattle and pig feed, there are numerous articles and ads targeted to Milady. She may have been a hearty farm wife who could slop the hogs with one hand and cook up three enormous meals a day in her country kitchen with the other, while helping six children with their homework and hand-sewing all of their school outfits (in short, a woman who had far more life skills than I'll ever have)... but she also, by golly, gave a hoot about internal daintiness. Even so, it couldn't have been the easiest thing to be fastidious about one's womanhood when one was busy tending to livestock and chasing kids and helping to run a farm.
Fortunately, there was Lysol liquid to come to the rescue. Not only was it a venerable household disinfectant, but it was also, apparently, just the thing for cleaning out more private "rooms." Matter of fact, Lysol had been a household name in feminine hygiene for years before that 1956 ad.
Flash forward thirteen years to 1969: the Summer of Love has come and gone, and free love and the Sexual Revolution are making their profound mark on society, thanks in large part to the Pill and, of course, to the hippies. In certain circles, the "natural look" is becoming more acceptable, although in some cases "natural" is code for "a little careless on the hygiene front." On the other hand, the "second wave" of feminism won't really hit for another year or so, and it will be quite a while before it makes any sort of dent in the "women's magazines." (Actually, a glance at many ads and articles today makes a pretty good case for the opinion that the feminist revolution completely bypassed Women's Mag Land.)
I'm looking now at the June 1969 issue of Ladies' Home Journal, which at that time was "The Magazine Women Believe In." I nabbed this one from my mom's house a few years ago. Actress Ali McGraw is featured on the cover as an example of "The Movies' New 'Natural' Woman." And I suppose she does look natural, comparatively speaking, in that her eyes aren't weighted down with the garish false lashes and blue eye shadow that were the fashion in those days, and her teeth are...gasp... a little crooked.
Flipping through the magazine, it seems clear that feminine daintiness is still an overriding concern, but a revolution has obviously taken place in the interim, as indicated by the headline on one ad devoted to the topic of down-there freshness: "Five years ago most women would have been too embarrassed to buy this product." This from an ad for a feminine deodorant spray called Feminique, by Intec Laboratories in New Jersey: "a product that would have made your grandmother faint and your mother blush." The copy went on to explain that now that "The Pill" had freed gals from worry, "The Spray" would "help make all that freedom worthwhile."
The real revolution, of course, had taken place among the marketers who came up with the idea of deodorants specifically for women's naughty bits. And not a moment too soon, what with women being so smelly and all. I never can remember if it was Dear Abby or her sis Ann Landers, but I recall that one of those sage pop-advice columnists wrote on more than one occasion: "Men should bathe once a day. Women can't bathe often enough." The good folks at Lysol had gotten wise to that fact decades previously, as had various makers of commercial douching products, but it took late-60s marketing whizzes to truly refine the art of feminine hygiene by introducing products for external daintiness. Feminique was but one of several such products advertised in that issue of LHJ; in my view, however, the award for Most Patronizing Copy easily goes to a similar offering called Pristeen.
So it was that in that eventful summer of 1969, while the hippies were doing their thing (Woodstock, of course, happened later that year), and some dudes were getting ready to walk on the Moon, and the ongoing war in Vietnam was dividing the US as nothing had in many years, our attractive, nice-to-be-with-girl was off in her own dreamy world – uncertain of many things, perhaps, in that time of turmoil, but completely confident that the most girl part of her was under control.
Of course it's stretching things a bit to say that any of the feminine-hygiene ads are indicative of misogyny. They are, more than anything else, examples of advertisers preying on the various insecurities of their prospective consumers, and in that respect are no different from ads for baldness cures or erectile-dysfunction remedies. For that matter, preying upon people's insecurities is how New-Wage and selfish-help hucksters attract their customers. I knew there was a way to tie old feminine hygiene ads in to the main themes of my blog.
Still, when one is in a certain kind of mood, it's hard to get past the overriding message that we gals are real stinkers.
Mail...I get mail!
Speaking of stinkin' thinkin', I occasionally get emails and blog comments from people who think my thinking stinks. F'rinstance, there was this one that came in recently (I have not edited the post for spelling, grammar, or punctuation, but I have softened the expletives):
I just came across your blog and pissed myself laughing, I mean what is it in someones life that is so so sad that you have to bitch about other people all the time. I don't know what this LOA or stuff is (and I can't be assed to find out!) but I cannot believe that ANYONE has that much time to spare in their lives that they can moan about a whole load of things that have nothing to do with them all the time. Your like the gossip of the internet. You remind me of 2 neighbours, who have such sad lives that they sit and make stuff up about everyone else. How bored must you be? Seriously now, as a grown up, don't you think this is childish? Maybe you could start a hobby? I do have better things to do with my time, but I thought that I would be nice and tell you how much of a loser you sound. Also, for the people who do read the books you moan about, this is the perfect place for them to come and find out about the new books and inside gossip about what they believe in. I bet they come here, check for new books and are off to amazon to buy them. So your selling the stuff for them, how daft is that? I am all for people having a say, but surely you need to have at least have looked into this and tired it all 100% to have formed such childish opinions. How can you have an opinion on something you know nothing about? Unless of course it is just a childish opinion built on sh-t. I have read you WHOLE blog and have gone from tears of tiredness cause I am so bored, or laughter because your so shallow!! Maybe you could do with some of those crazy books to help you get a life! GeorgeOddly enough, this comment came in response to a post that didn't contain my usual snarking. At the time, however, it was the top post on the page, so I suppose the person just wanted his comment to be noticed. Judging from the spelling conventions observed, I'm guessing the writer is a Brit or perhaps an Aussie. I'm also thinking that quite possibly he is a David Schirmer fan or family member (who is not being entirely truthful about not knowing what "this LOA stuff" is).
Wow, they sure told me, didn't they?
One of my favorite pieces of fan mail came in just last week in response to a post I'd written a year previously. The post was about some of the most inspiring MystiCouples at work in the world today, and the person who wrote to me took umbrage at my remarks about a cult leader in Sedona, Arizona named Gabriel of Urantia. (At one time he was Gabriel of Sedona, and before that he was Tony Delevin, but "Urantia" encompasses the entire planet, being a name for planet Earth, as revealed in a wackadoo New-Wage bible called The Urantia Book. I actually have a copy of that classic work, and have for many years. Can't say I've read it all, though.)
Anyhow, one of Gabriel's followers really took me to task, and once again, I've abandoned my day-job role as editor, except for my customary neutralization of expletives:
Well ms. schmid, You ask what do you think about me ,so I will give you some feed back. I think you are probably very confused about life and cosmic reality. It is a shame that you try to discredit people that you don't even know,you must be very angry or just self absorbed or possibly your upset with your own life. I can not be the judge of what determines your actions, but I must say you have put some bad information up about Gabriel and Niann. They are very special people and there only desire is to help the planet grow into a reality where sh-t talking is none excitant and mature and the only criticism is positive reinforcement which I am giving you write now. I could say you suck sh-t at being a write ,editor or book designer but that would not be constructive criticism it would just be rude ,kind of like what you said about Gabriel's singing. That's your opinion and some opinions should be kept to ones self. Did your mother ever tell you if you don't have anything nice to say then say nothing at all. God loves you but he don't like the sh-t you write about beautiful people. So Gabriel and Niann have my vote for the most beautiful balanced compliments I have ever had the privilege to serve in gods kingdom with ,not the mysticouple award. You should show them great respect and honor them for the beauty they pour out on this planet.As you'll see if you follow the link above, I published the comment and replied to it. Yet the writer sent the identical comment again the next day, perhaps not understanding how Blogger's archiving system works. Just in case that writer is still stewing about my perceived failure to publish his letter, I am presenting it to you now on the main page.
This disgruntled soul isn't the first person to get after me about things I'd written about Gabriel; one of Gabe's cousins had previously challenged me on my blog, as did another follower via private email. The consensus seems to be that if nothing else, the opinion I expressed about Gabe's vocal limitations was very rude. Well, as we know, opinions are like you-know-whats, so don't take my word for it. Go here to sample Gabriel's singing for yourself.
Oh, those polygamists!
And speaking of cults... I'll wrap up this collection of snippets with another gem you may or may not have seen: the 2008 Texas Polygamist Wives Wall Calendar. Guys, I gotta warn ya: grab a towel before you click. This is even better than watching drunk college girls fake orgasms on YouTube.*
And that's it for now, Dear Ones. I'll be back soon with more news you probably can't use, but that, with any luck, will be a reasonably entertaining way to waste your time when you should be working.
* Okay, not better. But quieter, anyway.